The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has been re-designated as the Indiana Dunes National Park, making it the 61st national park in the country and the first in the State of Indiana. Save the Dunes is grateful for the tireless efforts of Representative Visclosky and support of Senator Young to give our dunes the national park designation they deserve, and we celebrate our partners at the National Park Service on this exciting day.
This designation is a momentous piece of a long history of preservation efforts in the dunes. In 1916, National Park Service Director Stephen Mather hoped to protect the Indiana Dunes through the creation of a Sand Dunes National Park. Ultimately, those efforts were foiled by the United States joining World War I, and the dunes were left unprotected until 1926 when Indiana established nearly 2,200 acres as the Indiana Dunes State Park. However, with thousands of acres still vulnerable to the impacts of development and industry, Save the Dunes’ founder, Dorothy Buell, worked alongside Illinois Senator Paul H. Douglas to continue the fight for a national park.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was established in 1966, which laid the foundation for the level of protection, restoration, and appreciation the dunes enjoy today. While we have always been part of the National Park System and the natural and cultural resource protections of the National Park Service, the dunes have the rich history and ecological significance akin to the national parks we celebrate as a nation and are worthy of that designation. Over the years, Save the Dunes has continued to join forces with our representatives from Indiana, Illinois, and beyond to elevate the dunes to the national park recognition that Stephen Mather envisioned over one hundred years ago. We are proud to see that vision become a reality today.
We hope that you’ll join us in celebration and go out and enjoy your dunes this weekend, their first days as the Indiana Dunes National Park.